Military promotes boxing star Pacquiao


MANILA, Philippines, December 5- The Philippine military promoted boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the army reserves on Monday, but the multi-millionaire will likely not see any combat action.

Pacquiao, who is also a congressman representing his southern province of Sarangani, donned his formal olive green uniform and insignia for a simple ceremony at the country’s army headquarters in Manila.

Army chief Major General Emmanuel Bautista said he hoped the 32-year-old, who has won world titles in a record eight weight classes, would be able to inspire others to enlist.

“He can help in the recruitment of patriotic Filipinos to join the reserve force as we endeavour to build the force into one great component of a world-class army that is a source of national pride,” Bautista said.

He said Pacquiao could also help implement the army’s community outreach programmes in the countryside.

Pacquiao was enlisted in the reserve forces with a rank of sergeant in 2006, and was promoted to sergeant major three years later as a reward for being the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, the army said.

However, army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said Pacquiao was not given his new rank this time because of his boxing hero status.

“The military provides a corresponding rank in the reserves depending on the government position. A congressman’s equivalent rank is lieutenant colonel,” Cabunoc said, adding President Benigno Aquino had the final decision.

Pacquiao won his seat in parliament last year, and applied for his higher rank after being elected a congressman, according to Cabunoc.

Addressing critics who questioned his qualifications, Pacquiao acknowledged he was not a soldier but said he could help the military in non-combat ways.

Pacquiao famously rose from deep poverty to become one of the world’s richest athletes, and is now one of the most influential people in the Philippines.